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Japanese Sewing Books in English

Japanese Sewing Books in English

Book Review – Stylish Remakes

December 18, 2015

It’s the end of the year and time to declutter! Amidst the frenzy of sewing Christmas presents and getting ready for the New Year, I’ve been trying to declutter the house. Actually, I’ve been meaning to ever since I read the book – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. It’s hard to do so with a baby always attached to me, but I’m trying.

Old clothes used to be an easy thing for me to get rid of. But after reading this book sent to me from Tuttle (another Japanese Sewing Book in English to add to your collection) , I now have to consider every piece before deciding – to throw or to upcycle?

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This book is all about upcycling. The author “Violette Room” is actually a brand of casual wear in Japan. Excerpt from their website

The history begins in the fashion academy.The violet room is the name of the common room existing there.
So that a bird returns to the den,
It is the important place that always exists in the place of our heart. Thus, it became a brand name.
more about Violette Room

A word upfront – there are no patterns included. There are drafting instructions but based on one set of measurements. It is also not a sewing instruction book with detailed step by step photos or diagrams. The finished product dimensions will be provided so you can estimate what adjustments you may have to make. After all, it really depends on what “raw materials” you have to work with. To me, it’s more of an idea book and inspiration than anything else. Let’s have a look!
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The book is divided by the following categories, my favorite has to be the T-shirts section, since I’ve been sewing knits more often for my kids and there are lots of Tshirts to be thrown out.

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Some simple ideas to start off with – embellishing an existing Tshirt with a bow. Don’t worry, it gets better 🙂

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Up the street fashion vibes by attaching a lace skirt to an old retro shirt. I think the retro-ness of the shirt is important to the look. It’s a Chicago shirt!

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I like this one. Combine a baggy T (just use the interesting print bit on the Tshirt) and a fitting tank top, add a sweetheart neckline and it looks like a one-of-a-kind designer tank top!

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This upcycling idea will help you get rid of your stash quickly, for it uses 3 shirts at once. I’m not sure why the tank top has to be attached to the shorts though. The shorts was made up of 2 different t-shirts, so you can play with different color tshirts for a more dramatic effect!

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This has to be the cutest little remake. The original shirt was cute enough and converting it into a romper just makes it even cuter! It did give me lots of ideas to reuse old Ts for my little boy’s clothes. The romper is too large for my boy though, so I used an old Tshirt, with a baby tank top pattern from Cucito, and made this! The orange knit bias was cut out from another t-shirt. Now I have an old stack of Tshirts waiting to be turned into kids bottoms, tanks and to be used for knit bias tape.

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The second section was all about Flannel shirts, but of course you can use normal shirts if you don’t have any flannel ones.

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Here’s what you can do, make a dress out of 2 different shirts.

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or, make a baggy shirt more feminine and fitting by shortening the length and adding cuffs and gathers.

The next section is on borders (Borders here means a striped pattern print)

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If you have lots of college sweatshirts, you may find the next section interesting as well. Since they are mostly oversized and baggy, it makes a great “fabric” for upcycling, like this cute little dress here.

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Garbadine Coats, at first glance, it looks like nothing more than adding embellishments to a normal coat. This was actually a very plain, long and shapeless typical trench coat, which was transformed into a more fitting, short and cute feminine coat. Makes a great little outfit for rainy days.

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The last section is on Bandannas, which is by definitely the most versatile item to upcycle, after all, it is nothing more than squares of fabric. The interesting thing about using Bandannas for upcycling, is that the prints are usually confined to a square repeat. So how you piece the bandannas together will make a difference to how your garment turns out.

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This camisole and skirt number reminds me of the batik dresses I used to wear as a kid!

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If you don’t have that many bandannas lying around, you can also turn it into a cute drawstring purse.

The following shows you how a typical set of instructions will provide. The drafting pattern is blurred out intentionally, but you get the idea. the drafting dimensions are also based on one set of measurements anyway, so the best way is to base your pattern on an existing shirt that fits.

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I like the fact that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to upcycling. You can remake using existing material (less waste), you don’t have to buy new fabric (save money), and you get a unique look everytime. Those of you who are wondering what to get for your sewing friends as a Christmas present, this will be a great idea!


Buy now from Amazon (Affiliate link)

Title : Stylish Remakes
Author : Violette Room
ISBN No: 978-4805313657

Disclosure : I received this book from Tuttle to write this review, but all opinions are my own. 

Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books in English Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – Stylish Party Dresses (Now in English)

August 27, 2015

It is always exciting to see newly translated Japanese Sewing Books, hot off the press, in my mailbox! A big thank you to Tuttle who not only sent me these two books for review – Stylish Party Dresses: 26 Easy and Inexpensive Sew-It-Yourself Dresses for that Special Occasion & Stylish Remakes: Upcycle Your Old T’s, Sweats and Flannels into Trendy Street Fashion Pieces, but is also sponsoring a book giveaway for this book that I am about to review right now. Yes you heard me right! GIVEAWAY!

Before we all keel over in excitement, let’s take a look at this lovely book shall we? After all if you are not lucky enough to win it, you will want to buy one for yourself. This book is named Stylish Party Dresses by our favorite Japanese Sewing Book authors – Yoshiko Tsukiori. If you are not familiar with her, she’s the author of many many sewing books. Quite a number have been translated into English as well. Just click here to see all her books that I have reviewed.

cover

I did not recognize the book initially as a different dress was used for the original book cover, and the title was also changed from Formal & Little Black Dress to Stylish Party Dresses (see below).

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There are 26 projects you can make in this book, but not all are for dresses. Included are 3 bolero patterns that you can use with the dresses as cover-ups.

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The contents page is a lot more descriptive and detailed compared to the original one (below), which was rather minimalistic.

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Now let’s have a look at some of my favorite pieces from this book. There are just far too many pieces to cover in one blog post!

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The book starts off with the dress on the cover. A simple dress with a midi tulle skirt. The dress itself is made of satin backed shantung fabric which gives it a touch of class and elegance despite its simple lines.

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This black lace dress is made using black lace fabric overlaid on a grey polyester crepe de chine. A quick search for crepe de chine gave me this definition “Crepe de Chine, also spelled Crêpe De Chine, (French: “crepe of China”), light and fine plainwoven dress fabric produced either with all-silk warp and weft or else with a silk warp and hard-spun worsted weft.” – Britannica.com 


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Beneath the Cape Sleeved Bolero is a simple sleeveless dress. The bolero is made of a georgette fabric which is lightweight and drapes really well. Perfect for the soft flowy look.

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This was the dress featured on the Japanese version of the same book. I always felt it was a little plain for a book named Stylish Party Dresses, but check out the back of the dress…

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So apparently the details are in the back of the dress. A large ribbon tie! This dress is made from silk striped chiffon and is lined.

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I am not usually a fan of these big shapeless dresses, but I do love how the choice of the fabric – CD Shantung, has on the overall effect. First the sheen, as well as the structure of the dress. In the dress description, it is noted that the fabric has a little more body and visible fibres than regular Shantung, and different levels of “shine” on different sides, so you can choose which is the “right side” of the fabric when making the dress depending on the level of shine you want. But what is CD Shantung? I have no idea, and it doesn’t seem to be a regular term. I am guessing it is a slubbed version of shantung? I do think that tafetta can achieve the same effect too if you can’t find the exact same type of fabric.

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Another bolero, this time in black lace, used over the same shantung dress above.

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A Wrap-Look Dress in Liberty Jersey.

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The black jersey version of the same dress. For a moment I thought it was a velour fabric as it does have a velvety sheen to it.

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Another one of those look so simple dresses but the beauty lies in the design of the draping of the fabric. The sleeves are cut extra wide at the end, same goes for the main bodice and back. The skirt is just a simple skirt made in the same fabric of silk jacquard. But wait till you see the back view of this top.

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Love this ribbon tie detail on the back! In this picture, the same top is matched with a long chiffon skirt in print. A totally different look, from the full two-piece set, but nevertheless very elegant and pretty.

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A very cute and youthful dress made with satin backed shantung. The detachable collar is made using organdy and attached on using snap fasteners. Just to clarify, the dress itself has a regular collar in the same fabric, the organdy collar sits on top of it and snaps on the inner neckline (so the snaps can’t be seen if you are not using the detachable collar.

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This dress is called the Dress with Pin Tucks, but you might be wondering, where are the pin tucks? It’s a little hard to see as they are obscured by the Liberty print fabric. There is a black version in the book which shows off the pin tucks really nicely, unfortunately the photos I took can’t quite display the pin tucks well so I’ve left it out.

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A Two-piece set in Georgette fabric.  The blouse and skirt are actually separate pieces, and you can wear the blouse tucked or untucked. The skirt has two interesting horizontal tucks across a section of the front and back panels that gives it an irregular hem.

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This must be my favorite party dress of all the dresses in this book. A Tafetta two piece dress. The blouse has a ribbon detail while the skirt is embellished with diagonal ruffles. Love the color of the pretty tafetta fabric on this.

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One more bolero pattern – A bolero with frilled front edge in georgette. The frills drape nicely along the front giving it a more three dimensional look. The bolero is seen here with a long chiffon dress.

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An example of the pattern instructions. Units are provided primarily in inches, with the metric equivalents in brackets. Most of the instructions are simple enough to understand. The steps that require more explanation are usually accompanied by diagrams.

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A close up of the diagrams included in the book.

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A handy pocket is attached for storing your pattern sheets. There should be 2 double sided pattern sheets enclosed.

otherbooks

More sewing books in English from Tuttle Publishing. To see my reviews of  Japanese sewing books in English, click here.

backcover


available on Amazon for pre-order now

Title : Stylish Party Dresses
Author : Yoshiko Tsukiori
ISBN No. : 978-4-8053-1366-4

 

This book will only be released on Amazon on the 15th of September, but here is your chance to win a copy of the book before it is released!

Tuttle Publishing will be kindly sponsoring TWO copies of this book. So there will be two lucky winners! Just enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter app below with either your Facebook account or your email address. You can get additional entries from liking Tuttle Publishing on Facebook, Japanese Sewing Books on Facebook, or tweeting about the giveaway. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Japanese Sewing Books in English

Survey – What type of Japanese Sewing Books would you like to see in English?

July 29, 2015

As mentioned last week, I am running a survey to find out the type of Japanese Sewing Books that you would most like to see translated to English. I have compiled a list of the major categories, based on how the popular genres of Japanese sewing books available out there.

Many of you, may find it hard to choose just one category. I find it hard to narrow down my favourite type of sewing too. So you are allowed to pick up to 3 options, but you can only vote once. So choose wisely! The people in charge of deciding which books to translate may just be swayed by your vote so make your voice heard today and you can make it happen!

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 2015-07-20 09:48:12
end_date 2015-08-05 23:59:59
Poll Results:
What kind of sewing books would you like to see translated to English?

Book Reviews Japanese Sewing Books in English Ladies Sewing Patterns

Book Review – She Wears the Pants (Now in English)

March 11, 2015

As promised, another book review of a soon to be released English translated Japanese Sewing Book. I know I promised it would be up last week but I have a good excuse. An excuse that explains why getting a blog post photographed and written is taking more time than is used to. I will try to improve on that but more details about that in my next book review. 🙂

Back to this book. The original book in Japanese was first published sometime in 2013 which is really not too long ago, and the original title of the book was “She has a mannish style”  Do you remember that book? I fell in love with the book because, despite loving dresses and girly stuff, the truth is that as a Mum my wardrobe is literally navy, black and grey + shorts/pants.  The draw of this book is that the designer has taken wearable daily clothes and added some really cool designer touches to them.

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Yuko Takada is also the author for I love Tops  (click to see my review on the Japanese book) and I love Pants. She is an award winning designer who graduated from the famous Bunka Fashion College with a major in Fashion engineering. This book has been translated to French as well with the title “Féminin masculin” which I am guessing means Female Male? or is it the other way round as Google translate tells me “male Female”? So now there are 3 very different titles for the 3 versions, but I think you get the point what this book is about. The author herself says it best, when describing the inspiration behind her creations….. see the little paragraph below the Contents page.

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“Sometimes you want to dress cool and boyish, in special, unique pieces that are only for you…”

In the Japanese version review, I did share a number of the pictures with you but let’s have a look at them again just to refresh your memory. I’ve also added some new shots of those not shown previously.

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Oval coat with a round collar. Interesting attachment of grey knit fabric as part of the sleeves from the elbow down. It is sewn on as part of the coat.

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Jumper skirt with a false fly, decorative side panels and lined skirt.

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Mini Dress in stretched wool. The dress has a baggy top with a V-shaped neckline. The model is wearing another layer inside the dress which explains why you can’t quite see the details. I’ll try to describe it as best as I can. A decorative bow is sewn to both sides of the front V, and on the back there are criss cross straps sewn to the back V. The skirt is like a short elastic tube skirt attached to the baggy shirt.

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Top with Epaulettes. What’s an Epaulette? A shoulder decoration. In this case there are two fabric strips attached to the shoulder seams and fastened down with buttons.

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A velour blouse that I had did a translation for. Chance for me to check how accurate my translation was!

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Square Top – named after the squarish pattern pieces it is made out of. It’s one of those designer pieces that you need to figure out how to put on but so worth it cuz it looks so stylish and edgy. You can wear it in two different ways. Thrown on like a jacket…or like a blouse (below)

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Fleece Jacket – the knit lining makes for an interesting contrast when you turn up the sleeves.

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Sarrouel Trousers – are these technically the same as harem pants? I am not familiar with the terms but when looking at the how-to-make for this pair of pants, be warned that it looks like tricky business. I’m used to having two or four symmetrical pattern pieces when sewing pants, but this particular design calls for different size panels and pattern pieces, that will be pieced together to form the pants.

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A casual unlined long jacket with welted pockets.

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Pompom blouse – one of the simpler patterns to make but with an interesting neck binding that accentuates the neckline and the shoulder seam. The pompoms are actually from ready made pompom trim.

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Draped Mini Dress – From the instructions this dress looks really easy to make. The drapes will form naturally thanks to the shape of the pattern piece and the knit fabric used. The material list calls for Cotton T-cloth, which I am assuming means T-shirt material (knit jersey) made of cotton? A google search turns up either cotton fabric, one even said it’s grey sheeting fabric but in the Japanese versions the term used is 綿 (which means cotton) and 天竺 (which means jersey). All the image searches in Japanese turn up some kind of knit fabric and it makes sense given that the dress has no other enclosure and a plain cotton fabric will not create such nice drapes nor allow you to get in and out of the dress with ease. So my conclusion is when they say T-cloth in Japanese sewing books, it means jersey.

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Tapered trousers. Learn how to make a proper pair of pants with the full works – waistbands with belt carriers, side pockets with pocket bags, back patch pockets, zip fly. The design details are in the back waistband, where there is a interesting design feature as well as a decorative belt.

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Semi-flared culottes with tucks and decorated with a waist tie made with the same fabric.

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Draped cardigan – Another interesting piece in terms of pattern design. This cardigan is constructed out of 3 irregular pieces of fabric and the pockets are cleverly designed as part of the pattern piece so that you don’t actually have to make the pockets but just sew up the edges and the pockets will form naturally. It’s hard to describe. You have to see it the pattern to know what I mean!

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Decorative Tippets that you can drape over any plain shirt/outfit to jazz it up.

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This blouse is called the Gathered Blouse, it looks really simple but the design details are in the back. There were two photos of this in the book but both were showing the front and not the back! The back bodice piece is gathered where it meets the yoke. There are also pleats where the sleeve meets the cuffs and the cuffs come with a slit opening secured by a button.

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The last piece is a knitted belt stole. What’s a belt stole you might ask? A belt + a stole combined in one piece. You fasten the belt around your waist and wrap the stole around your neck. Prevents it from slipping off. Brilliant eh? This is actually a knitting pattern with actual instructions on how to cast on and off, knit,purl and even how to make a fringe. The whole stole is made of rib stitch and stocking stitches which are essentially different combinations of the knit and purls. It does not tell you exactly what a rib or stocking stitch is, so you have to find that out for yourself. In any case, using diagrams to learn knitting/crochet has always been difficult for me to visualize, all the arrows give me a headache 😛 So I always fall back on youtube videos. Once you pick it up, it’s easy to follow this pattern to make this gorgeous belt stole.

The patterns in the book are for sizes XS-L, according to the measurements below. As usual, measurements are in inches and cm equivalents in brackets.

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There are a couple of pages devoted to basic sewing tips and techniques, text+photographs included. In my previous review I did mention that they were not so useful as a lot of the photos needed explanation from the accompanying text. Now it’s all in English so no more problems with that! The sewing tips cover the preparation of fabric, choice of needle and thread, sewing seams, finishing edges, and even sewing on stretch fabrics and edge binding.

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The how-to-makes are presented in a similar way as in the Japanese version.

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A close up of the diagrams in the book.

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Unlike the Japanese versions where the pattern sheets are stuck on to the last page, there is a handy pocket on the back cover. I wish they would do this for all Japanese sewing books because I hate tearing the patterns out of the back page.

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The back cover of the original book was a cool cement gray wall+floor. Very minimalistic. This new back cover makes more sense because you get to see more of what is in the book. Oh and this book includes a quote from me as well! In case you are wondering, I don’t get paid for this at all! I’m just a fan of the book! 🙂

In summary, some of the pieces do seem a little complicated to make but there are also easy pieces that look really unique and stylish so I guess there’s something for everyone in this book, whether you are a beginner or advanced sewist.


available now for pre-order on Amazon.com

Title : She Wears the Pants: Easy Sew-it-Yourself Fashion with an Edgy Urban Style
Author : Yuko Takada
ISBN No. : 978-4-8053-1326-8

Book Reviews Girls Sewing Patterns Japanese Sewing Books in English

Book Review – Sewing for your girls (Sewing Recipe in English)

March 1, 2015

3 years ago I bought this book while holidaying in Japan, called Sewing Recipe for Girls, by one of my favourite author/pattern designer Yoshiko Tsukiori 月居良子. There is also an adult version of this book called Sewing Recipe. The books are designed to function not merely as pattern books, but also serves as reference books as well. The books cover a wide range of sewing techniques from basic to advance, that you will need to learn to sew up your own wardrobe. The sewing techniques are presented in step by step photographs which made it easy to understand, but the accompanying explanatory text was in Japanese. So imagine my excitement when I found out that the Girls’ version of the book was going to be translated to English!

The books are almost identical in terms of content, but the front and back covers have been changed. Oh, the title has been changed as well. In Japanese, the word レシピ (pronounced re-shi-pi, a term borrowed from the English word recipe) is not only used for cooking recipes, but also to refer to instructions on how to prepare/make something. For example “Handmade Recipe” – meaning how-to-make procedure for handmade crafts. So it’s not strange to see it on a Japanese book as a book title, but I guess it will be strange to use it in reverse, i.e. on an English book since “recipes” usually refer to cooking recipes. So the editors have thoughtfully changed it to a more self-explanatory title. “Sewing for your girls”.

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A quick look at the contents page – there are 8 basic patterns, with 1 or 2 applied patterns for each of the basic patterns.

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As you can see from the contents page, there are many many pages dedicated to sewing techniques. I did not cover each individual basic pattern in my review previously, so let’s take a better look at each of the patterns as well as some of the sewing lessons.

Before we begin, here is the size chart for the patterns included in this book. Like all the other translated books, the main measurements are given in inches with cm equivalents in brackets.

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The first basic pattern (see above) is a basic A-line dress with frills on the shoulders. To make it simple, for both the one sewing as well as the one wearing it, the dress has a front neck slit and closed by a ribbon tie on the front. No complicated zips or buttons to fiddle with. A great dress to begin with if you are a beginner.

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The first sewing lesson is based on basic pattern #1, includes all the steps, from transferring patterns, cutting out fabric, marking the symbols on the fabric, and even how to use a sewing machine! So even if you are not making basic pattern #1, this will be useful for you!

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At the end of each basic pattern, the applied patterns are presented. There are 2 applied patterns for patterns #1,2 and 6, and 1 applied pattern each for patterns #3,4,5 and 7.

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Basic Pattern #2 – Basic blouse with puffed sleeves and back enclosure with buttons.

Note how for each basic pattern, the finished projects are presented in both printed and solid color fabrics. This was done intentionally by the author so that it can help you imagine your own designs and visualize the clothes in different types of fabrics.

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Applied Pattern #2a and #2b – with modified collars and sleeves

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Basic pattern #3 is a dress with smocking on the front yoke. Smocking is a technique used a lot in girls clothing. Yup, you learn how to make real hand-stitched smocking and not the “fake smocking” effect using elastic thread.

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Applied pattern #3 shares the same basic pattern as pattern #3 but looks rather different. Instead of smocking, the front yoke panel is gathered instead. The sleeves are also lengthened with added smocking details along the sleeve extension. A contrasting ribbon tape is sewn around the neckline for decoration.

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Basic pattern #4 – A simple drawstring pants pattern made in sweatshirt (jersey knit) fabric that will be perfect for lounging in. Modify this pattern on your own to create easy to wear shorts or long pants in any fabric of your choice.

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Applied pattern #4 uses the same pants pattern from basic pattern #4 but with an added bib + straps above the waistline, and therefore creating a new outfit – overalls. Hidden side pockets and a back pocket were added as well.

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Pattern #5 is what I called the “fake smocking” effect. From far, it looks like the top part of the bodice was smocked. In actual fact, the fabric is gathered not by hand, but by using a shirring elastic. I have made these dresses many times and my girls love to wear them. These dresses are made up of simple rectangles for the front and back piece, and two more long and thin rectangles form the straps. They are very easy to sew, except that you have to wind the shirring elastic by hand with a slight tension. It may take a couple of experiments to get the correct effect so if you are doing it for the first time so do try it on a scrap piece of fabric before sewing on your actual piece of fabric.

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The applied pattern is a simple adaptation. A lengthened skirt with tiers using co-ordinated fabric.

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Pattern #6 is a Long sleeve smock blouse with elastic gathered neckline and sleeve openings. Easy to wear and comfy too!

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The applied patterns for #6 are 2 rather different designs. One is a cap sleeve with contrast ribbon tie detail on the front, the other is a sleeveless camisole like top. You can’t see it in this picture, but there is an added layer of tulle over the fabric for applied pattern b.

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Basic pattern #7 – round collar sleeveless blouse with frill details on the front bodice and buttons down the front. The tops are slightly flared towards the hem line for ease of movement.

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Applied pattern #7 is a lovely linen dress with a sailor type collar and a button down opening halfway down the front. I’ve always wondered how to make these half button placket kind of things but no worries, there is a sewing lesson on that too. There are also embroidery details on the pocket as well as the collar.  The patterns for embroidery as well as instructions for the stitching methods are included.

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Basic pattern #8 is a poncho style blouse which is great for layering over a plain top as outerwear. The hems of the flared sleeves and bodice are lined with ric-rac tape.

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After seeing all the patterns offered, it’s time to get started on sewing! The next section covers all the basic techniques you will need for the garments in the book. Unlike the sewing lessons accompanying basic pattern #1, the photos are in black and white, but still in great detail as you shall see. There are 32 pages devoted to these step by step photos on various sewing techniques, from something as simple as hand sewing buttons to attaching a collar, inserting an invisible zipper, or a partial opening (like the half button down opening for applied pattern #7) The full list of sewing techniques can be seen on the content page.

sewingforyourgirls_techniquesclick on image to zoom in

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Example of step by step photos for sewing techniques.

The last section contains the detailed instructions for all the other basic patterns and applied patterns. Each page includes the Materials list, Instructions, Cutting layout, as well as a order of make diagram.

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Close up of the order of make diagram. Follow the numbers in the order given to complete the garment.

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As all the sewing techniques are compiled within one section, you will notice that the instructions do not have detailed diagrams for each step, instead you will need to refer to the respective pages under the sewing techniques. At first this may seem rather troublesome, but after a few projects, you will be so familiar with some of these techniques, you will have no need to refer to the techniques anymore.

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There are 2 full size pattern sheets, printed on both sides for a total of 4 sides. Attached to the back cover is a handy pocket for storing your pattern sheets.

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And last but not least, the back cover has also changed. Now it includes more photos of the projects, as well as a quote by yours truly! The people at Tuttle saw my review from 3 years ago on the Japanese version of the book and asked me if they could quote me on the English version. But of course! 🙂 For me, this was truly the most exciting part about getting the English version of the book! A big shout-out to the lovely folks at Tuttle for sending me this review copy and having my quote on their book.

click on the thumbnail to pre-order from Amazon now

Title : Sewing for your girls
Author : Yoshiko Tsukiori
ISBN No: 978-4805313275

Next week, another newly translated English book review. It’s a book that I have reviewed before and even did a pattern translation from it. Some of you have emailed me regarding this book so I think you will be excited to see the English version of it. Stay tuned!